What should a manager never do when an employee complains about a co-worker? (And we don’t mean things like “She never refills the printer’s paper drawer.” We mean complaints about discrimination, harassment, serious misbehavior or interpersonal issues, and the like.)

What the manager should never do is NOTHING.

Once a manager knows about a problem, he or she MUST take action. Otherwise, if the situation degenerates into a lawsuit, the organization may well be liable for the manager’s failure to act.

OK, then, what action should the manager take?

Here’s one thing to always do: REALLY listen to the complaining employee.

It’s amazing how often managers hear only the first few words or sentences, then start offering advice about what the employee should do. Instead of pontificating, managers should hear the employee out, then ask clarifying questions until they have enough specifics to fully grasp what the person is saying.

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